I like bread. In the farmers’ market where I go most Saturdays, there are two stalls with several different kinds of bread between them and I am like a dog with two tails. When I was nine or ten, as soon as we were let out of school, almost everybody I knew spent almost everything they had in the paper shop or wherever else they could find sweets. But somebody introduced me to a bakery where at 4.00 in the afternoon you could buy fresh milk bread rolls, often still warm, and they were heavenly. I am a bread freak. And no, I have never made it. Hands like lead.
When I set out to enchant, I invested in silk stockings which felt lovely but you can keep the suspenders, the garter belt and all that stuff (nowadays I’d need a corselet, what my mother used to call “something to hold me together”). I do understand that tights are eerie, significant others don’t always like them and getting them off can be hard work. But I like socks. I bought a pair of Dralon burnt orange over the knee socks which featured in the Vogue of the day and I posed on the chair in the bedroom, in my nothings and my trendy socks. They say little things please little minds. Mine must be microscopic.
Silk is like food to the fingertips. When Lawrence (his real name) copied with improvements my favourite dress from his toile into a remnant of water lily leaf green raw silk, he lined it with matching silk and the first time I showed it to a friend, she sat, stroking the garment. I knew exactly, me too.
I wish I could stroke the sky, the winds. The strange ballooning clouds in colours you can’t describe, never mind replicate. Do you remember those little round faced personifications in the clouds symbolising the winds with pouting lips and cheeks blown out? I’d like to be one of those for a day and end at sundown, all exhaled, sliding down a falling sunbeam. And perhaps on my travels I could meet a bee. I like bees.
I like autumn. Almost everyone I know prefers summer but give me a cold bright day with a bit of wind and the faint smell of chrysanthemums and dried leaves, a big scarf and sound boots and I’ll walk till I fall, singing scraps of school songs and half remembered bits and pieces, curdled into sweetness for sheer joy. I like autumn colours, the reds and browns and oranges, strange yellows and mulberry, sullen grey and thin silver sun, the darker green of the plants that hold on to their leaves and how the wind smells blown back through a dog’s coat.
And I like chocolate better than any sweet that was ever invented, rib sticker enough for Robert Scott in the Antarctic cold. When my mother tried to wash the long coppery curls of my early childhood hair (it was cut and went dark when I was 9 – neither of us minded but the neighbourhood biddies shook their heads disapprovingly), it would bind into what she called knots and cottars, the disentangling of which hurt. She bribed me not to cry with squares of Oliver Twist, a medium priced bar from Terrys of York.
I like the smell of lemons, I cut a zest every morning to go in the coffee (thank you, Prizzi’s Honour by Richard Condon). Lemon is the best cleaner I know, combined with bicarbonate of soda , though French vinegar with soda bic. comes a close second. Can you imagine a friend who lives there part time coming back to see me with brandy in one hand and vinegar in the other? Sounds like the story of my life …
And where did all this come from? It is a reaction against endless grim predictions in the paper, looking at our political executives, men and women, knowing that the political weather is as variable as the meteorological kind – overcast and may brighten – but then again …. Not a reliable crystal ball in sight. And from reading a relentlessly silly article about being forty something. I remembered I liked being forty so I asked myself – what do I like? It is so easy to be pulled down. Much more use to look ahead – or even up ….